Gods Word on the New Year
God’s Word on a Successful New Year
Romans 12:1, 9-13
A boy told his father, "Dad, if three frogs were sitting on a limb that hung over a pool, and one frog decided to jump off into the pool, how many frogs would be left on the limb?" The dad replied, "Two." "No," the son replied. "There’s three frogs and one decides to jump, how many are left?" The dad said, "Oh, I get it, if one decides to jump, the others would too. So there are none left." The boy said, "No dad, the answer is three. The frog only DECIDED to jump.
Every year about this time many people take time to evaluate the previous year, evaluate their life and analyze successes and failures. Without a doubt there are people sitting here today, who feel like a complete failure in their relationship with God. Some feel that the New Year brings the same spiritual struggles and defeats as they set out to conquer in the previous New Year. Some may be going into the New Year saying to yourself, “I just can’t seem to live the Christian life the way I should. I’m frustrated. I don’t have spiritual victory or a sense of accomplishment. I struggle with the simplest forms of obedience, and I’m constantly defeated.”
The problem may be that you are trying to get from God, when you have already gotten. The key to spiritual victory and true happiness is not in trying to get all we can from God but in giving all that we are and have to Him. Countless thousands of people today, including many genuine Christians, flock to various churches, seminars, and conferences in search of personal benefits—practical, emotional, and spiritual—that they hope to receive. They do just the opposite of what Paul so plainly emphasizes in Romans 12:1. In this forceful and compassionate exhortation, the apostle does not focus on what more we need to receive from God but on what we are to give Him. The key to a productive and satisfying Christian life is not in getting more but in giving all.
Jesus said, “…true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him” (John 4:23). God gave Himself for us in order that we might give ourselves to Him. Paul defines Christians as those “who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3). True worship includes many things besides the obvious ones of prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. It includes serving God by serving others in His name, especially fellow believers. Sacrificial worship includes “doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased”. But above all else, our supreme act of worship is to offer ourselves wholly and continually to the Lord as living sacrifices.
In the deepest, eternal sense, we cannot have more of God or from God than we now possess. It is more than obvious, however, that most of us do not have the fullness of joy that this fullness of blessing should bring. The joy and satisfaction for which so many Christians are vainly striving can be had only by surrendering back to the Lord what He already has given to us. The first and greatest commandment is what Jesus said it has always been: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37; Deut. 6:5).
With that as an introduction, let’s look at God’s Word on a Successful New Year.
I. Remember the Mercies of God (1)
For eleven chapters Paul has been addressing the problem as to how sinful man can be put into right relationship with God, and he has now concluded his argument. We were on such a collision course towards hell, that damnation seemed inevitable. But is it only by the mercies of God that we obtain salvation. It is the focus on these mercies that daily benefits our spiritual walk. The mercies of God are reflected in His power of salvation (Rom. 1:16) and in His great kindness toward those He saves (2:4; 11:22). His mercies in Christ bring us the forgiveness and propitiation of our sins (3:25; 4:7–8) and also freedom from them (6:18; 7:6). We have received reconciliation with Him (5:10), justification (2:13; 3:4; etc.) before Him, conformation to His Son (8:29), glorification (8:30) in His very likeness, eternal life (5:21; 6:22–23) in His very presence, and the resurrection of our bodies (8:11) to serve Him in His everlasting kingdom. We have received the mercies of divine sonship (8:14–17) and of the Holy Spirit—who personally indwells us (Rom. 8:9, 11), who intercedes for us (8:26), and through whom “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts” (5:5). In Christ we also have received the mercies of faith (mentioned thirty times in Romans 1–11), peace (1:7; 2:10; 5:1; 8:6), hope (5:2; 202, 4). God’s mercies include His shared righteousness (3:21–22; 4:6, 11, 13; 5:17, 19, 21; etc.) and even His shared glory (Rom. 2:10; 5:2; 8:18; 9:23) and honor (2:10; 9:21). And, of course, the mercies of God include His sovereign mercy (9:15–16, 18; 11:30–32). Such soul-saving mercies should motivate believers to complete dedication. Which leads us to the second part of having a successful new year:
II. Give Your Life in Worship to God (1)
Because we have obtained such great and blessed promises totally unmerited, we can worship God freely, knowing that we will not obtain any more favor than we have already received. In fact, Paul tells us to give our bodies as a sacrifice. One man said this, “Whereas the heathen are prone to sacrifice in order to obtain mercy, biblical faith teaches that the divine mercy provides the basis for sacrifice as the fitting response.” Thus our constant struggle begins. While in this body we will struggle between the desires of our new redeemed nature and the fallen evil desires of our flesh.
In the original language, Paul speaks of a sacrifice and follows the word with three qualifiers: living, holy, pleasing to God. In other words, living is not separated from holy and pleasing to God.
Someone once said, “The only problem with living sacrifices is that they keep crawling off the alter.” Paul can speak of believers as dying to sin (6:2), but his emphasis is on the glorious life we now live with Christ (6:8); we are “alive from the dead” (6:13). The sacrifice of which Paul writes demands not the destruction but the full energy of life. It is positive and dynamic. We are to offer God our life with all the enthusiasm of one striving to live life to the fullest.
Brings to remembrance that before a priest in Israel could minister on the behalf of others, he was obliged to present himself in a consecrated condition and the sacrifices he offered were to be without blemish. Holy is a reminder of that necessity, to renounce the sins of the old life and being committed to a life of obedience to God’s will. Malachi, speaking for the Lord, rebuked the children of Israel for second rate sacrifices to the altar. The blind and maimed animals and animals with spots and defects were offered to God. God was disgusted and rejected their worship.
Only the giving of our best will do. Sadly though, many Christians choose to give God their second best. They give God the leftovers of their time. They make every children’s activity a priority and then struggle to even make it to church. They spend on every hobby, vacation, and possession and then complain that they don’t have enough to tithe. They read all they can on health, financial soundness, and their pastimes but only give a few minutes to the Word of God. Yes we are much like the people of Malachi’s day. We are giving God our second best.
The King James calls this your “reasonable service.” Some Bibles say, “spiritual worship.” The word for reasonable is “logikos” from which we get “logical.” Another way to translate the word is to say “spiritual.” The word “service” is latreia which means service, particularly worship. What Paul is saying is that because the great mercies we have been shown the only reasonable act is to give our lives in the service of worship. In view of God’s acts of mercy it is entirely fitting that we commit ourselves without reservation to him. The only spiritual service of worship that honors and pleases God is the sincere, loving, thoughtful, and heartfelt devotion and praise of His children.
III. Have Genuine Love for Your Neighbor (9-10)
In verse 9 the KJV says let love be without dissimulation. In other words have “genuine love.” The adjective describing what love is not is a word was often used of an actor's mask, with which the actor could pretend to be various characters. Paul wants to make certain that no one puts on a mask of love and pretend to care for others.
When we view the mercies of God, we will love God with all our heart soul and might, resulting in true worship. In turn we will want to be like our Savior and love our neighbor as our self. Resulting in the choice to have genuine love.
Verse 11 gives us a little of what is involved in loving our neighbor: Be kindly affectioned means that we literally “show brotherly affection.” The word is Philedelphia. The picture is the church as an extended family, whose members, bound together in intimate fellowship, should exhibit toward one another a heartfelt and consistent concern. Then the ante is upped a little. In honor preferring one another. Literally “outdo one another in showing honor.” We are to be quick to show respect, quick to acknowledge the accomplishments of others, quick to demonstrate genuine love by not being jealous or envious, which have no part in love.
So we are to daily view the mercies of God, give our life as an act of worship to God, and love our neighbor with a genuine love. There is one more thing we are to do for a successful New Year:
IV. Serve the World (11)
A. With diligence
There is no room for sloth and indolence in the Lord’s work. Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”Whatever we do for the Lord must be done in this present life.
Slothfulness in Christian living not only prevents good from being done but allows evil to prosper. “Therefore be careful how you walk,” Paul charged the Ephesians, “not as unwise men, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15–16). “He also who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys” (Prov. 18:9). For weeds to prosper, the gardener need only leave the garden alone.
B. With Enthusiasm
”Fervent” literally means to “well-up” or “to boil.” According to Rev 3:15 lukewarmness is the worst offence. If nothing burns, there can be no light. It is important that the human spirit be on fire, but Paul is not referring to something that occurs by some natural process but as a result of the indwelling Spirit of God.
One of the oldest blights on earth is lack of enthusiasm. Most people could make a sizable list of their failures that were simply casualties to indifference and lack of commitment. Fervency requires re- solve and persistence, not mere good intention.
C. With the Right Perspective
“Serving the Lord” has to do with perspective and priority. Everything we do should, first of all, be consistent with God’s Word and, second, be truly in His service and to His glory. Strict devotion to the Lord would eliminate a great deal of fruitless church activity.
ILL: Someone once asked a concert violinist in New York’s Carnegie Hall how she became so skilled. She said that it was by “planned neglect.” She planned to neglect everything that was not related to her goal.
Conclusion Don’t let 2009 be another year of spiritual defeat and guilt. Give yourself to the Lord. Renew yourself and see spiritual victories and joy in 2009. Are you as fervent for the Lord as you once were? Have you slowly allowed yourself to be lulled into lukewarmness?
As the instruments play, I would like to invite you today, to come forward during the invitation and tell the Lord your intent to be a successful Christian this year. Some may also need to come forward and confess their luke-warm heart or even cold heart. Will you pray with me?
I would like to ask you to come forward and pray to God a prayer of personal dedication.